Friday, January 19, 2018


/Fun acrylic paintings done by me a few years ago

Bindi Weed
Cobbler's Pegs

Flashing by at the speed of light, 2017 made 365 days seem like 182!  Already the past 12 months are a blur.  In some instances, that’s good.   If you’re not already aware - the Mad Season is all over Red Rover. Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise because, you see, upon opening the fridge, glaring back at you bedraggled scraps of ham desperately hanging onto the bone; or you discovered fruit mince tarts and a square of Christmas cake hiding on a shelf.    

In truth, I still have some of my Christmas fare left - not a lot - but none will go to waste.  Already, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve enough pea and ham soup stored in individual containers in my freezer to see 2018 out!

Already half way through January, I’m a few steps behind in catching up with my New Year postings - more than a few when I take note of the date.  It’s okay...I do have a very valid excuse for being a tardy blogger.  After my explanation below, a note will not be needed.

My Christmas-New Year period was spent with my two best friends. I couldn’t have wished for better company.  The avidity of the humidity sapped our energy - an excellent excuse to halt any thoughts of unnecessary activity.

Because my mates are experts in the art of lounging, sprawling, loafing and reclining, I followed their lead.  I’m a quick learner when the need arises.

Feeling no guilt, and with no one to answer to, we three were happy to loll around like sloths through the steamy, steamy last couple of days of 2017, and the first couple of weeks or so of 2018.  It’s still quite warm here, but with the humidity giving us a rest – temporarily, no doubt – it’s not half bad. 

My four-legged friends and I watched the cricket, the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the tennis; still sweating, but not sweating the small stuff, or the big stuff.  Mostly, my furry rascals snoozed while I kept a look-out. 

In between the various sporting events I binged, but not on food or liquor.   Not a drop of alcohol has been imbibed by me since the pre-Christmas party I attended at my landlords’ home on the Wednesday evening prior to 25th December.  How boring am I!!?    (Don't answer that)!
Australia Day is coming up...Friday, 26th January, and I intend letting my hair down, and kicking up my heels by having a couple of liquid liquor refreshments in the late afternoon.  A small street party has been organised by the good folk up the far end of this lane.  It will include the folk in the lane that runs parallel to this one, as well...if they choose to enjoy our company, that is.  If not, they don’t know what scintillating company they will be missing out on!

However - back to my hectic schedule of the past few weeks leading up to this very moment....

Strolling along Atlantic City’s boardwalk with Enoch “Nucky” Thompson and the mob in “Boardwalk Empire” I had a bird’s eye view of the fun, games and rackets of the Prohibition era; a time when, ironically, banned alcohol flowed freely. It was a binge-worthy series.  No money was spared on its production.  It's a fabulous series, brilliantly produced, directed and acted.   With the two Executive Producers being Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg, one could not expect anything less.  The soundtrack is also superb.   If you've not watched the series...I highly recommend it.

My roomies and I were bereft at series’ end. 

Nucky had departed, but lucky for me the tennis gangs, with their racquets arrived.   

The bingeing continues....

It began with The Hopman Cup (held in Perth, capital city of Western Australia) and The Brisbane International...held in....well, Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city.  After a bit of fun courting the nets in Sydney, the Australian Open being held in Melbourne, now has my undivided attention.   This addiction hits me every January.  I battle my way through without need of going into is touch and go at times, though.  

I do love the tennis.

Resolutions are not on my New Year’s agenda – I don’t have a New Year agenda - other than to discount what the “experts” tell me to eat and what not to eat; how much and how little to eat; how to eat it, and when to eat it – even when not to eat it!  Fingers will always be “in” in my book.  Saves on the washing up!

The advice changes daily so there’s no point being excited about the latest best thing since sliced bread.

Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of glass jars as drinking vessels!  To the scrap heap with activated charcoal, chicken sashimi and air diets.

Take heed!  You heard it here first...the 2018 craze is bindi-eye needles and crushed onehunga-weed leaves.  In case you’ve a hunger for weed - “Onehunga-weed” is bindi-weed.  The leaves are parsley-like; no one will know the difference.  Dried, crushed bindi-eye needles substitute for cracked black pepper.   

Along with cobbler’s pegs, they’ll be the next best thing since Cherry Ripes...close, but no cigar!

As with most of the fanciful nonsense we’re told, follow my above advice at your own peril! 

You have been warned!

On the other hand, in some parts of the world black jacks aka cobbler’s pegs are used as a food or medicine source. During the Vietnam War soldiers adopted cobbler’s pegs as a vegetable. It became known as the “soldier vegetable”. 
It could be said I’m not as mad as I seem after all - it’s your call...

Mediterranean Salad: Whisk 1/2c x-virgin olive oil, 1/4c red wine vinegar, 1-1/2tsp sugar, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1tbs fresh dill, minced, 1tsp dried oregano, 1/2tsp garlic powder, 1/4tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine 450g cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, or 3 large tomatoes, chopped (seeded, if desired), 450g diced cucumbers, 1/2c chopped Kalamata olives. 1halved, sliced red onion, 1 can drained, rinsed cannellini beans and 1/2c crumbled feta. Toss with dressing. Chill 4hrs; take from fridge 30mins before serving; drain off excess dressing; garnish with fresh dill or basil.

Tuna Salad:  Combine 450-550g  drained, rinsed chickpeas, black-eyed peas or kidney beans (or combinations), 360g water-packed chunky tuna, drained and flaked, 1 finely diced red capsicum, 1/2c finely chopped red onion, ½c chopped parsley, 4tsp rinsed capers, 1-1/2tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, ¼ c lemon juice and 2tbs x-virgin olive oil. Season with freshly-ground pepper. Combine ¼ cup lemon juice, 2tbs x-virgin olive oil and 1/4tsp salt in bowl; add 8c mixed salad greens; toss. Divide greens among 4 plates; top with the tuna salad.

Couscous Salad: Dressing: 1/2c fresh orange juice, 1/4c lemon juice, 1/2c x-virgin olive oil, 1/2tsp turmeric, 1/4tsp salt. Place 1c whole wheat couscous in bowl; pour over dressing; stir well once; set aside 10mins without further stirring; then place 2 diced med-tomatoes, 3 finely diced, red, green, yellow capsicums, 1 large jar drained, marinated artichoke hearts, 1 rinsed, drained can chickpeas and 1/2c chopped basil on top; gently stir. Sprinkle with roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds.

Irresistible Salad: Blend until creamy, 1/3c white balsamic, 1/2c x-virgin olive oil, 2tbs water, 1/2tsp salt, 1/4tsp freshly-ground black pepper and 1/2tsp honey; set aside.  Heat 2tbs of dressing; add 750g green, peeled prawns; don’t overcook, In bowl, combine 180g baby spinach, 125g mixed salad greens, 2 large, peeled, diced mangoes, 1-1/4c pomegranate seeds (grapefruit segments could substitute; imagination alert!), cooled prawns, 1c cooked, cooled quinoa, 1c roughly-chopped walnuts. 1/3c crumbled feta; add dressing; toss well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Cape Richards, Hinchinbrook Island...the resort's restaurant/bar/pool area was up behind the trees fringing the beach; and my little house was atop the cape, beyond those rocks,  The guest cabins were further along to the left of the pic above.
Two views of the Cardwell jetty
Macushla...on Hinchinbrook Island
Two views of Mount Bowen on Hinchinbrook Island.  Mount Bowen is Queensland's third highest mountain

To my mind, the months of April, May and June are among the best times to be in the tropical areas of North Queensland.  

Skies of azure abound, unblemished by clouds other than perhaps flimsy wisps of almost transparent gossamer. An ocean so calm it looks like a floor constructed of glass gently laps the shore.

On one glorious day as described I flew by light aircraft, a four-seater Beaver, to the mouth of the Hull River, north of Tully. We flew low over the Family Group of Islands, which includes Bedarra and Dunk Islands. The pristine sandy ocean bed, clearly visible below appeared to have about six inches of water covering it, so crystal-clear was the sea.  The depth was an illusion, but because of the clarity of the vision one could be easily fooled into believing.

It was in April, whether by coincidence, luck, fate or a bit of each, a group of guests arrived to the island by the Grumman Mallard seaplane.  

Before they’d embarked on their individual adventure, they were strangers to each other, except for one couple Tim and Suzy - who weren't really a 'couple'. They were good friends; perhaps friends with benefits.  I knew not and cared not.  Like with the others, they were, of course, strangers to me when they first set foot on the punt transporting them from the seaplane to the island; a situation soon to be rectified.

Gaby, a thirty-something, career-driven lass from Sydney alighted first, looking a little stressed from being out of her normal comfort zone.

Tim and Suzy themselves eagerly stepped into the punt with no outward signs of trepidation.  

Gingerly, a tall, timid-looking fellow named Dennis was the last to exit the seaplane.

Nervously, he stepped into the punt, with the help my guiding arm.  He set himself apart from the rest of us, not joining in the light chit-chat.

His initial behaviour was to be his wont for the next couple days and nights we discovered...until, that is, combined, we broke his resolve!

Gaby, Tim, Suzy and I hit it off immediately.  Together we were a force to be reckoned was better, Dennis learned, to have the force with you!

After the 'greet-and-meet' out on the deck surrounding the pool - something I did with all guests upon their arrival, whether by boat or seaplane - the new guests were escorted to their respective cabins.

After the arrival of this interesting-looking and sounding group, every cabin was occupied, making a total of about 32 guests from memory.

At that time, when I managed the resort, we advertised “maximum population – 30”. 

There were only 15 cabins, each privately hidden among the lush foliage along the beachfront.  The cabins could hold four persons, but in the majority of instances, the resort was the choice of couples.

Later, after my time on the island the accommodation facilities increased, doubling in number.   

Nowadays, after cyclone devastation and other sad factors, the resort no longer exists; but my memories do.

To recap, the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island covered only 22 acres of the total 245 square miles of the island. The rest of the island was a national park in care of the National Parks and Wildlife Department.  It is now all national park.

After the “greet and meet” ended, I didn't set eyes upon the new group of 'islanders' until pre-dinner drinks around the bar on the evening of their arrival.

After mingling with the guests at the bar as I did every evening, I joined my new guests at their table for dinner, at their bidding.

Dennis, dressed in a vibrant lime-green shirt, however, set himself apart from everyone else, choosing to sit alone at a table in a corner.

This was not to be, in my opinion.  I treated all my resort guests as if they were guests in my own home...the restaurant was my dining room.   My staff acted accordingly.

Having approached Dennis at his table, I coerced and cajoled at length, finally breaking down his reserve.  Somewhat reluctantly, but knowing he was beaten, and there was no escape hatch, Dennis joined the rest of the newcomers – and me.

Well, that was the beginning of a most wonderful, fun-filled, insane, crazy week!

Tim, a journalist with a well-respected financial magazine in this country at the time, the "The Bulletin" (the magazine closed its printing presses for the final time in January, 2008), was highly intelligent, gentle, quiet and extremely humorous.

Suzy, who worked in advertising, from memory, was as bright as the shiniest button, a little avant-garde.   Actually, a wee bit more that 'a little'. She dressed accordingly – with Bohemian flair.  Both she and Tim were from Melbourne.

Gaby, the stressed career girl soon shed her 'city' worries, and quickly settled into the island spirit.  Gaby was from Sydney.

Dennis, who had just turned 40, was also from Melbourne.  He was very shy, and, in the early stages, seemingly without humour.  Studious, silent unless urged to utter a word or two, he sat amongst our motley crew of degenerates, (which included me) feeling trapped, no doubt, not knowing which way to look.

Unsuccessfully, he tried to escape our evil clutches every day and night!

Dennis, as I learned during the course of his stay, was using his holiday on the island as a time to reflect, and to consider his future. He had been offered a post at Oxford University.

Sun-filled, warm, not hot days and balmy, playful nights followed. Dennis tried his utmost to distance himself from the 'group' but none of us would allow this to happen.    
We were going to drag him out of himself if it was the last thing we did!

After our first night of hilarity, he sat at another table with other guests, trying to remain invisible! How could he? His lime-green shirt let him down every time! He lived in that shirt!

We came to the conclusion it was the only shirt he had brought with him. Perhaps he believed in travelling light.  It was obviously his favourite shirt because wherever he went the shirt was sure to follow!

By his third night, he realised he couldn't fight us any longer.  He gave in, virtually waving a white flag (or lime green shirt), and rejoined our madcap activities.

It was the best thing that could have happened to the 40 year-old bachelor. We certainly opened up his vistas...freed his mind to a land of opportunities!

I always mingled with my guests, but never to the extent with which I did with that particular group.

We’d 'clicked' for whatever reason.  Our personalities, views on life; our senses of humour; our characters, regardless of variances, melded.

We were not dissimilar to the "Famous Five" out of Enid Blyton books, but much more wicked – and a few years older!

Once Dennis learned how to relax, he let his guard down more than he ever had done in his past.   He went with the 'flow' and discovered he enjoyed himself as he never believed he could.

The lime-green shirt went wherever he went. I'm sure he slept in it.

One day while he was out swimming in the ocean ofh Orchid Beach, the resort’s main beach, Suzy, Gaby and I grabbed the opportunity.  We stole the notorious shirt.  With it clasped in our hands, we scurried away like thieves in the night, out of sight.  We hid the damn thing, much to his despair!  I hid it among the t-shirts and sarongs on sale in the little resort shop adjoining my office.

It was Thursday afternoon around four-fifteen. I was in my office attending to some paperwork, when the lime-green shirt-clad Dennis, appeared at the door.

"Come on!" He said.

"Where?"  I replied.

"I'm taking you out in the canoe!" He spluttered excitedly.

"The canoe! I've never been in a canoe in my life! Have you?" I laughed. "I can't...I've got work to do!"

"No...I've never been in a canoe, either...but today is the day! Come on! 'No' is not an answer I will accept!"

"Oh! My God! What am I letting myself into!" I exclaimed as he dragged me bodily from my office.

Down to the little beach beside the jetty we went with much gaiety, with me, protesting, laughing all the way.

At that point in my life, I had never before rowed anything, let alone paddled a canoe!

Like Pocahontas and Hiawatha off the two of us went, unstably!

Dennis was like a person driven, driven by some inner demon of a hidden, long-forgotten sense of the ridiculous.

We talked. We laughed and we giggled like two school kids.

When he was paddling one way, I paddled the other.  We were never in synch. Somehow, even with our lack of expertise at paddling, we soon approached the bend leading towards Macushla Beach, both of us drenched from tears of laughter and from sea water!

"We have to turn around and go back, Dennis! I've got to race home to shower and change for the restaurant!" 

The sun had begun its descent in the west, beyond the mountains behind Cardwell on the mainland.

As we struggled on our return trip, Johnno, my barman was standing at the end of the jetty in the distance. He spotted us. I called out to him to come to the rescue.   Both Dennis and I could row no further.  We were weak from laughter.

Jumping into the island boat, “Lady”, the yellow Abalone, (my staff had named the boat "Lady of the Island" in my honour), Johnno came to our rescue like a knight of days of yore.

Johnno towed us back to the jetty, making our return journey much quicker than if we’d been left to our own devices...thank goodness! It was a fun finale to our equally fun, spontaneous excursion!

Our water-logged adventure was the main topic of conversation over dinner that evening.

Dennis' time on the island came to an end on a Friday. He planned leaving the island in the afternoon by the “Reef Venture”, the powered catamaran.  Once on the mainland he intended jumping aboard a Greyhound coach at Cardwell, en route further north to spend a couple of days in Cairns, before heading back home to Melbourne.

He was the focus of our attention on his final night. Gaby, Suzy, Tim and I threatened the four of us would book into an adjoining room at the hotel in which he’d be staying at Cairns.

 How dare he escape from the 'group'!  Flee the nest!  Our motto was “all for one and one for all!”   No copyright fees rendered.

One could tell by the look on his face he wasn't sure whether to believe us or not.  We weren't going to let him escape our clutches easily, or without a battle.

As planned, Dennis left the following afternoon, among much joviality, mingled with some sadness.

Dennis was a changed person to the one who had arrived a few days earlier. His decision about his future had been made during the crazy fun and games; and, also during his quiet walks, lost in his own thoughts, along the beach or through the rainforest to adjacent beaches.

He decided to accept the Oxford University posting.  

To my surprise, when I arrived back at my office after farewelling Dennis, on my desk was a parcel wrapped in paper, addressed to me. Upon opening it, I let out a loud laugh.

It was the infamous lime-green shirt! Dennis had bequeathed it to me!

When Suzy, Tim and Gaby arrived at the bar that evening for “Happy Hour” I called them into my office.  I’d devised a crazy plan; they had to play their parts in it.

I knew which hotel Dennis would be staying in, in Cairns. I also knew the time of his arrival. I gathered my gang of villians around the phone and made a call!

Dennis answered the phone in his hotel room.  

In unison, we shouted..."Open your door, Dennis! We're right outside! We couldn't do without you! We miss you already! We've come up to join you!"

For a moment or two, there was silence from his end of the phone. 

To this day, I'm still certain his heart stopped beating for a couple of minutes...unsure if it was true or not!  It wasn’t even April Fool’s Day...but we got him for a couple of minutes.  Then we all broke out laughing, him included.

The week had drawn to a close. Saturday morning raised its ugly head all too soon. 

Tim, Suzy and Gaby, my new, crazy, kindred spirits were leaving on the 1pm seaplane back to mainland 'sanity'.

Forlornly they wandered down to the restaurant. I was in my office feeling similar emotions. It was crazy. We'd only known each other for a week, but we had shared such wonderful, fun, happy, slightly insane times.

I never invited guests to my little island home – my sanctuary (only twice did I do so...the other time was one night I had Derryn Hinch, Jacki Weaver and Jacki's son, Dylan to dinner during the week they stayed on Hinchinbrook) little dwelling on the island was my private escape.  I protected my privacy.

However, that morning, it seemed the right thing to do. I invited my 'partners-in-crime' to my home for coffee as there was time before the plane's arrival and their departure. We certainly were a maudlin mob. All the laughter we'd shared the past week had evaporated.

Tears were shed, not only by us girls. I noticed moisture glistening in Tim's eyes, too. Never will I be convinced he had something in his eye, as he claimed.

The farewells were sad, but mingled with the sadness were glorious, happy memories of a time well spent.

Suzy, as she stepped from the jetty into the punt (normally, I joined the guests in the punt, but this day, purposely, I didn't) that was to take them to the seaplane, turned her face up towards me, and said...."There is something waiting for you when you get back to your house...have a look out on the deck."

With those words, she smiled and waved. I waited at the end of the jetty until the seaplane lifted out of the water to commence its flight over the island, south to Townsville.

Feeling despondent, I strolled slowly back to my house, thoughts of the past week sifting through my mind.

I walked out on my deck as instructed by Suzy, and there, hanging on a fine thread from a beam on the deck overlooking the ocean was a crystal. It sparkled brilliantly in the sunshine, reflecting the sun's glittering rays upon the sapphire sea out front.

Final tears flowed, then a wistful mellow contentment settled throughout my being. 

That week, full of unexpected surprises, has remained firmly entrenched in my file of "fond memories". I'm sure the others feel the same way, even though we have since lost contact with each other, except for Suzy and me.  We still keep in contact to this day.

I did, however, re-connect with each one of them, during my trips to Sydney and Melbourne after their visit. I had dinner in Melbourne with Dennis the week before he left for England and his tenure at Oxford.

As a finale to this lengthy tale....I was aware that Dennis, when he left Cairns, was boarding another Greyhound Coach south to Townsville airport for his flight back to Melbourne.  

Always the clown and prankster, I organised with Bonnie, a friend in Cardwell, who was also the wife of the skipper of the “Reef Venture”; she handled all Greyhound coach bookings etc., from their Cardwell office, to purchase some lime-green poster-board.  

I asked her to print on the bright cardboard, in very large, black letters "Come Back, Dennis! The Island Misses You!"  

My further request was for her, when she saw the Greyhound coach coming along the highway, to race out onto the highway waving the banner.

Bonnie was happy to oblige.

You guessed the coach, filled with passengers, came along the highway - as it approached the Cardwell town centre, which is bordered on one side by the ocean - Bonnie stepped out in front of the laden bus, waving the banner!

Her crazed actions caused quite a stir, together with lots of excitement and laughter.

Dennis did enjoy the special was his moment in the sun!

A most memorable, cherished vignette...

PS....I still have the crystal Suzy gave has pride of place on my bedside table.... 

All picture courtesy of and credit to Jan Blackshaw

Saturday, December 30, 2017


'Tis the 31st December, 2017 as I write...New Year’s Eve.....surely no reminder of this fact is required, though.

My last day of 2017 began at a fraction past midnight, and then I went to sleep.  About five or so hours later I awoke to a brand new day...the last day of 2017. 

Where did the other 364 days disappear to, I wonder?   I dragged out the second last day of the year as long as was possible.  I will probably do similar on this final day of the year.   I want to stretch it out as far as I possibly can!    

Sometimes, I wonder why the need to do so takes hold...but Life is like that, and one must remind one’s self not to take it for granted.

I won’t be out partying; I won’t be in partying, either, but I will see the New Year in....without fail, I always do.  But, who knows?  I don’t even know!   I may get into party mode this evening...and party along with just me and my two furry mates, Remy and Shama.  I’ll go with the flow and the mood, come what may.

At times, I get weary – weary of all the madness that goes on, not only in our country, but throughout the world.   Disgusted and angered by the stupidity of some; the ignorance others. 

Often I fall down the “rabbit hole”.  I’ve found myself wallowing around in the darkness these past few days.  Alice and the rabbit didn’t join me, but my two rascals comforted me.  I felt like disappearing from the world and humanity, so I did, in a way, by flying low beneath the radar wearing my hermit suit.

On the other hand, I also want to savour every precious moment.  Once a moment is gone, it can never be regained.  Time trudges on unforgiving, sometimes cruelly...other times kindly.

Life is a asks many questions of one.  I'm yet to find all the right answers. I never will, but it sure as hell is interesting, intriguing and inspiring trying to discover the solutions to the elusive riddles.

Over the past few days I’d been trying, unsuccessfully it appeared, to make a dent in my Christmas ham.  

Shortly after I bounded out of bed this morning I solved the excess ham on the bone problem.

Presently, a huge pot of pea and ham soup is simmering away on my stove top.   It’s so thick I’m sure I will be able to walk across it once the cooking process has come to an end! 

A storm passed over during the wee small hours of this morning.  Thunder, lightning and some rain disturbed the early peace.  More storms have been predicted for later this afternoon, and/or early evening. 

For now, though, a light, gentle, balmy breeze interrupts the sleep of the leaves upon the trees. They're not protesting too much. The caress of its soft, gossamer breaths of air is a soothing lullaby. The humidity is still as thick and steamy as my pea and ham soup. 

Am I mad making soup in this heat?  Yes, I suppose I am!  There is no point my trying to disguise the fact. I know I can’t fool you lot!  

However, a big pot of steaming pea and ham soup after the Christmas madness has come and gone is a tradition in many households, including my own.   

What else is one supposed to do with all the left over ham?   I sure am sick of ham and salad.  Without complaint (not any of which you will hear, anyway) I will slurp my way through bowls of thick soup...once it’s cooked and and tomorrow.  There is more than enough so, naturally, I will freeze a stack of it, too!  I could start a soup kitchen with the amount I’ve made!

All is not lost, not even my mind!  Christmas cake, fruit mince tarts, chocolates, liquorice allsorts, ice cream and other goodies are still waiting in the wings.  I’ve not yet depleted those supplies, either. 

It will be so long between visits to the supermarket, I’ll have to re-introduce myself when I finally do step through its doors (opened doors, that is.  I’m not one for walking through glass)!

In truth, though, I did do a quick trip to IGA on Friday to replenish my fresh fruit supplies, as well as more milk for me, and fresh meat for my furry mates.  Remy and Shama have freshly-chopped beef each day for their evening meal.  I would have a riot on my hands, if their beefy needs weren't met...daily!

Thank you for following my blog over the past 12 months...and for your welcome comments.  

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year...I hope 2018 treats you and your loved ones with kindness.  I hope 2018 is a great year...worldwide...